Being Used by God
You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room for God to use you; nor the most talented. I’ve known lots of gifted people who blew up their lives for nothing. I’m always provoked when I think about the life of Solomon: called the wisest man who ever lived. And yet, because he married many ungodly women, at the end of his life he worshipped demons. Consequently, his children didn’t serve God and his legacy continued to deteriorate: the man whom God appeared to…twice. Soooo, if you want to be used by God, remember what The Message says: “…what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously-take God seriously.” (Micah 6:8, The Message)
Little Man and Big Man
I’m often concerned about the sadness of my soul. I’ve found, the psalmist was as well. He wrote, “Why are you in despair, (depressed) O my soul?” (Psalm 43:5a) The Hebrew word hear means, “Why are you so upset that you cry aloud, you murmur, growl, roar, and rage.” It’s one of the reasons I sometimes refer to my soul as “little man”, and my spirit as “big man”. I have to train my “little man” because he tends to murmur, growl, roar, and rage when he doesn’t get his way. The psalmist continued, “I have stilled and quieted my soul…like a baby content in its mother’s arms…” (Psalm 131:2) David, the beloved of God, trained his soul, and resolved, “I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again…” (Psalm 43:5b) May we never stop seeing the value of hoping in God.
Junk Drawers, Attics, and Garages
We all have things in our junk drawer. Objects we store that we don’t want to throw away but see no immediate use for. When it’s completely out of control, it leads to hoarding. In moderation, these items wind up in attics or garages, waiting for our children to eventually throw them away in mass. It all reminds me of the unresolved issues we store away with mental and emotional moth balls and cobwebs. The truth is, time doesn’t heal. Jesus does! And He’ll never take away, what we don’t freely give Him. The longer I live, the less baggage I want to carry around, for in the end, all I can take with me is what is eternal and meant for my good. You’ll never see a U-Haul following a funeral procession.
The Colors in Light
The whole creation speaks of God’s love. The Bible says, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5, NKJV) When God spoke, “Let there be light”, (Genesis 1:3), He actually was speaking all colors into existence. By shining light through a prism, white light is separated into all of the colors. Likewise, light shining through moisture in the air after a rain forms a rainbow with seven distinct colors as well. So, we see that the God of light, Creator of all of colors, all peoples, and all races, birthed the Universe with the beauty of diversity. Likewise, when the light and life of Jesus shines in our heats we at last realize that in order to love God, we must love what He loves, which is all people. If you know God, let there be light.
Outside the Box
Many of us have said, “I want to live outside the box.” What we’re saying is, “I don’t want to be limited, restricted, or hemmed in. I want to experience the freedom and liberty Jesus intended.” Recently, a friend shared what a college professor told him, “In order to live outside the box, you have to first know what’s in the box.” That really got my attention! In an age where so many of us have chaffed against limitations and the feeling of being hamstrung by everything from government to religion, relationships to our own insecurities, we ache to break out. But the very essence of innovation is being so familiar with the old, you become acutely aware of the breakthrough that’s needed. Then we can ask the Creator to take us outside boxes of limitation into realms that are truly an improvement.
Responding to the Present
When I went up to the counter to pay the bill at a restaurant, the pen they gave me didn’t work. Asking for a new pen, the waitress quickly responded, “Oh, let me put a paper underneath your bill because writing directly on to marble makes your pen skip.” It was a good surface, a fine pen, but it needed something in-between to make it work. How intriguing! In each of our lives, it’s not the hand we’ve been dealt or even the challenges we face that are the true key to our success, it’s the attitude and response we have to the twists and turns of life that make the difference. Many times, we want to dismiss our past as worthless, and our future as hopeless, when the difference-maker is all about our response to the present.
Earthly and Heavenly Values
Beware the absolutes in the world’s values. Conventional wisdom is often convenient thinking. Many of the norms of Earth are abnormal in Heaven. It will always take courage to go against the condescension’s of the crowd. In the Book of Acts, the 1st Century Christians were continually vilified for their faith. The Bible says, “…the only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere.” (Acts 28:22, NLT) If we faint under pressure, out strength is too small. (Proverbs 24:10) We must go to Jesus to get His strength and wisdom, in order to be washed in God’s eternal values, not the temporary, jaded values of Earth. We must not be seduced into thinking following Jesus should be easy. He said, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” (John 15:18, NLT) We must be conformed to God’s image…alone!
I have a large nose. I can smell a pizza a half a mile away. Once, I was driving with an older man of God who I really respected. But, when he slipped off his shoes, immediately, a horribly pungent stench filled our car. I was stunned! My mind raced. Can’t he smell that? What if he takes off his socks? Within a few minutes, the smell seemed to dissipate. The next day, as we drove again, the same foul odor filled our vehicle. I quickly looked over to see if his shoes were on. They were. Then after doing some mental math I sheepishly said, what’s that smell? “Oh, that’s a pulp mill.” Ugh! Here I’d judged my brother without knowing all of the facts. It exposed a stinky pattern in me, I sadly repeat far too often.
David Cassidy’s Final Words
It has been said that the final words of a person’s life are extraordinarily revealing. Nothing confirms this conviction more than actor and musician David Cassidy’s closing statement to family members before passing away. He lamented, “So much wasted time!” These haunting words are a chilling reminder to all of us about how precious life is, and how quickly it flies by. The Bible confirms this reality when it says, “…redeem the time for these are evil days.” (Ephesians 5:16) I want to live fully awake…to be intimately connected to the God who made me, the people who love me, and the needs around me. The sands in each of our hour glasses are falling quickly. May we fulfill why a loving God created us, walking in our exceptional, one-of-a-kind, identities and destinies.
Carnival Mirrors vs. Reality
We live in an age when people share their experience as reality and their world view as truth. Alternate realities and revisions of history are born every nanosecond. The Bible says, “A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21:2, NIV) The truth is, our motive is as important as our message. Being right is overrated, because doing right is all that really matters. We sit pompously on our anthills, a speck in the Universe, feeling superior to other ants, while a humble Servant sits on a throne in Heaven, amused by how puny we really are, and endeavoring to guide us passed the carnival mirrors of Earth to an ultimate reality check that, if we view sooner than later, can spare us a lifetime of aimlessness and chasing the wind.
My twin brother Joseph and I are navigationally challenged and directionally impaired. Frankly, we get lost…a lot. I once had a visiting pastor from Florida guide me around my own small town. And on his honeymoon, my brother Joseph and his bride drove in the wrong direction for half a day, only to turn around and arrive back where they started that morning. Though it’s embarrassing to admit our limitations, it is infinitely less significant than the problem and solution God provided for all humankind: “We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on (Jesus).” (Isaiah 53:6, The Message) As sad as being lost was, being found has made it all worth it.